Renting shouldn’t be a nightmare

Renting shouldn’t be a nightmare
Josh Burns

Affordable housing needs to be more than a dream.

Dreams by Fleetwood Mac. Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) by the Eurythmics. Don’t Dream It’s Over by Crowded House. Wildest Dreams by Taylor Swift. California Dreamin’ by the Mamas and the Papas.

So many classic songs about dreams. Some uplifting, some soul-searching, some mournful, some painful. Some dreams brought to life; others illusory.

Young Australians know all too well about painful and illusory dreams. While home ownership was traditionally seen as “the great Australian dream”, for so many it is so distant from reality that the dream is well and truly over.

An increasing number of young Australians cannot afford to buy their own home, forcing them into the challenging and uncertain rental market. Across Australia, more than a third of people are renters. In my electorate of Macnamara, this is more than half as people return to inner-city areas, a surge accompanied by a sharp rise in rents and a shortage of new rental properties.

For too many, the rental market is a nightmare. Young renters in my community regularly tell me that they are paying exorbitant rents for sub-standard properties, or that they cannot find rental properties they can afford anywhere near where they work or study. High demand for rental housing has given landlords too much power and tenants too few rights.

We badly need action to rebalance our housing market, increase the supply of rental properties, and give renters more power and more rights. Action is required at state and federal level. While tenancy law is a matter for the states and territories, the federal government has an important leadership role to play in promoting uniformity, providing finance, and increasing incentives to build more rental housing.

As the main source of housing funding for the states and territories, the federal government must make sure that they take the necessary action to improve both tenants’ rights and the availability of affordable rental properties.

That’s why Housing Minister Julie Collins announced last week that she will meet with state and territory housing ministers to discuss a uniform national approach to strengthening tenants’ rights.

The Prime Minister also met with state and territory leaders to discuss joint action on housing affordability, including measures designed to increase the number of properties available for rent.

The Housing Australia Future Fund could fund 30,000 social and affordable rental homes in its first five years. This investment would be the single biggest investment in social and affordable housing in more than a decade. Yet these plans are being stifled by the Liberals and the Greens in the Senate. Their decision to stand in the way is hurting people, including sole parents and women fleeing domestic violence, who have been neglected by the federal government for a decade.

Every home matters. And while I agree we always need to push for as much as possible, blocking the construction of social housing only exacerbates the supply issues.

Despite this, our government continues to work cooperatively across the country to provide housing help. An additional $2 billion of extra financing for the National Housing Finance Investment Corporation will provide up to 7000 more social and affordable homes.

The Albanese Government is serious about tackling Australia’s housing problems and making sure renters get a better deal and more choice, because renting shouldn’t be a nightmare. And we are determined to keep the dream of home ownership alive so all Australians can dream big and turn those dreams into reality. •

Join our Facebook Group